Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Book Description:
Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she's the one thrown into some stranger's lap. And she's had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?

I've been having the hardest time writing this review, I've been putting it off and off and the reason why is, I'm afraid I can't do this book justice - I loved it!

I was so surprised to find out how much I really adored this book! It had it all. First of all, it was a little chic litty because it starts out in present day. Eloise is our modern day heroine who has a thing for the Scarlet Pimpernel and another similar type of 18th century hero that worked with the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian. Now, having just read (or listened, in my case) to the book, The Scarlet Pimpernel, I loved this premise. Eloise decided to write a paper and go to England to research this topic and find out who was the the real Purple Gentian and another mysterious masked hero, the Pink Carnation. Now, of course, they're all fictional, but this book brings them to life, particulary the Purple Gentian. As Eloise delves into her research, she is generously given the chance to read the private papers of the real story from the Purple Gentian's present day descendents. While reading these papers, she meets Colin, the not so endearing present day earl or viscount or lord (I can't remember what he is) of the Selwick family. She has a couple of run ins with him - of course, he's dazzingly handsome, and she's always managing to make a fool of herself in front of him - a la Bridget Jones, which I found endearing and funny (especially since I love Bridget!).

While reading the 200 year old papers, we are then taken back in time to Napoleanic times and when the Purple Gentian was in action! We learn about Amy, who wants to work in league with the Purple Gentian (even though she doesn't know who he is.) She has wanted this ever since she was a little girl and she hops off to France from England with her cousin, Jane, and chaperone, Gwen. This is when the book gets really good! We also meet Lord Richard Selwick who is the real The Purple Gentian. He is charming and handsome and I found him totally endearing as well. There are tons of mix ups, humerous antecdotes, masked kisses, daring rescues and a mystery, plus some sweet, but at the same time, hot sex scenes - this book had it all! Not to mention - a great plot and I loved every minute of it! I loved the switching back and forth between Amy and Richard's story and Eloise and Colin's, which is not finished! I'm sure we'll learn more about our present day hero and heroine in the future books of this series.

Do yourself a big favor - read this book. It helps to know the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel first, though it's not required - but it does help. I'm eager to read the rest in this series - it was so much fun and I hated to finish it!



Christy said...

This is a great series and it only gets better (except for #4, which I felt was a slight hiccup in the series). #s 2, 3 and 5 are my favs!

Renee said...

I'm so glad you wrote this review! I've had this book on my tbb list, and the audiobook wishlisted at Audible for ages, but just haven't gotten around to it.
After your review, I'll definitely have to move it up the list!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Christy, thanks for letting me know, I was afraid this one would have been the best. Do they continue to modern story between Eloise and Colin?

Renee - I had this on my TBR List for a long time too! I hear the audiobook's narrator is not that great, juast as a warning, read the reviews of it on Audible before getting it. I might get one of the later books on audiobook, I'm not sure. Hope you like it as much as I did when you finally read it!

Patti said...

I read this book awhile back and I loved it - great review!

Christy said...

Yup, the story of Eloise and Colin is a constant in the whole series!

Alice said...

Aw, I liked this one too! Glad you enjoyed the read.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Patti - thanks, glad to hear I'm not the only one who loved it!

Christy - that's great! I'm so happy to hear it!

Alice - glad you liked it too - have you read the others?

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